Louis VS Schmeling, Ali VS Frazier, Tyson VS Holyfield — it’s rare to see two great heavyweights meet head-to-head. But that’s what happened in 1986 on Coney Island when two champions of avant garde music met for a less-than-bloody collaboration that found a pair of the world’s most out-there tunesmiths having a musical meet-up that read more like a artistic summit meeting than a jam between giants. While there is no audio evidence of the improvisation that occurred at the end of the show, there are gems to be discovered here and it’s enough for me to imagine the possibilities.
The WFMU blog has the skinny:
I remember stumbling upon a box of records containing many dozens of copies of a single album—John Cage Meets Sun Ra. Wow! It wasn’t easy remaining nonchalant when confronted with such a dense concentration of holy vinyl. I must have been stunned, because for some stupid-ass reason I didn’t buy a copy. I must’ve made the genius calculation that there were so many, I’d just swing back in a few days and snag one then. Of course, the box and its contents were gone upon my return…
Sponsored by Coney Island’s Sideshows by the Seashore, John Cage and Sun Ra were presented as a double bill. Despite the album’s misleading title, most accounts of the concert state that the two alternated sets and never actually shared the stage. Nevertheless, “Blue” Gene Tyranny in a review of the disc asserts that Messrs. Cage and Ra did in fact perform together toward the end of the evening, though there is no audible evidence of this on the recording.
If you’re more than a little bummed about having missed the show yourself, here’s the next best thing: Download both sides of the show’s recording at the Sun Ra site From Nowhere.
Here is the album in its entirety: